Yesterday’s comments by French coach Marc Lievremont were hardly surprising, but everyone seems to be talking about the latest ‘war of words’.
Lievremont has followed Warren Gatland’s approach in trying to wind up Martin Johnson’s side ahead of the crucial fixture at Twickenham on Saturday.
Unfortunately, it didn’t really pay off for Gatland, as England were composed and assured throughout their victory at the Millennium Stadium, and if there are concerns over the temperament of either side, surely it’s the French. Non?
Lievremont said: ‘We don’t like them and it’s better to say that than be hypocritical.”
‘We have a bit of trouble with the English. We respect them – well in my case at least I respect them. But you couldn’t say we have the slightest thing in common with them. We appreciate our Italian cousins with whom we share the same quality of life. We appreciate the Celts and their conviviality and then among all these nations we have one huge thing in common. We all don’t like the English.”
‘We beat Ireland yet left Dublin with the encouragement of all the Irish who said for pity’s sake, beat the English.”
Johnno wouldn’t be drawn into a response once again, just as he didn’t rise to Gatland’s jibes.
He said yesterday, “It’s about passion and that’s what makes the tournament. There will be an element of that in the game. You want to be involved in things like this. Yes, there might be a little bit of a siege mentality for some guys and, yes, I might have been a little bit unimpressed if an Englishman had said some things. But it’s all overrated. A bit of chat.
“It won’t be quiet this week. There will be a lot flying around. The more there is pressure outside, the more it comes down to handling things well on the field. Nothing changes in that regard. And just because we handled it well in Cardiff doesn’t mean we handle it the same way here.”
Excitement is building, and it’s still early in the week. We can’t wait…roll on the weekend.